1783. Sex Difference Redux—Part 37: Her First or His Job? II

I closed the previous post with this tip: If she nags, it shouldn’t be about his job, job habits, or whatever connected deprivations she may sense. Here’s another view of an old relationship issue.

One question plagues every woman, and many wives just have to have an answer. However, those wives drive a sharp wedge into their marriage. It happens because her anxiety turns one question into three disruptive ones. Does husband love me or his job the most? If me, why not more? If his job, why not me?

Husband senses and dodges the trap and responds to her questions with something like this: ‘You know you come first, but my job can’t be ignored if it’s to support us’. He intuitively knows better than to answer directly. He can’t answer the questions to her satisfaction and live through her likely reactions. If he says she’s first in his heart to the exclusion of his job, she looks for evidence but with a jaundiced eye. If he says ‘job first’, he’s condemned to the marital dungeon until she can find an option that generates more devotion, perhaps even another man.

Whatever the true answer might be, she won’t hear what she wants and her relationship will suffer. He can’t answer with what she wants to hear, and she can’t accept that as an answer. Thus, by merely asking the questions, she pushes their relationship into the competitive ring and sounds the bell for round one.

After the bell, she leads with blame. Finding his answer inadequate, she shifts to first blame his job. Then she blames him for not knowing how to manage his job so that she’s not so blatantly ignored. Her blame de-validates his role as husband so he seeks outside admiration and emphasizes his other role, his job. Thus, and even with the best of intentions, she stimulates the exact opposite of what she sought when first she felt shortchanged in the trifecta of wife, husband, and job.

Wives need to have faith that husband can serve two masters with fair if not equal devotion. They also need to be convinced that she and his job are balanced in husband’s heart so well and fair that she won’t be burdened unnecessarily if husband feels pressured to favor job first.

When wife gets involved trying to find answers to the three questions above, she effectively questions his allegiance, which questions his judgment, which questions his role as CEO at home. All that reduces his value, which lowers his conscientiousness, which weakens his interest, which makes wife less valuable. It’s a downward spiral that starts easily from lack of her faith in what he does and conviction about who he is.

Lacking such faith and conviction means that husband is or will eventually become inadequate in her eyes—either before or after she becomes the same to him.

Faith that she’s NOT number two and conviction that he’s the best she can do. Those are two more of the prices that women pay for compatibility. Faith and conviction keep them from further rocking the marital boat. The wisest wives strive to purposely and internally relieve their anxiety without getting hubby involved.

Of course, some husbands do love their jobs more. However, home life is much more harmonious and compatibility more stable if wife can live with suspicion and smother her anxiety.

Effort to assuage her anxiety by questioning husband is self-defeating. Wiser wives know this: Compatibility is served when wife has faith that husband can serve two masters—her and his job—with fair if not equal devotion. Husband naturally believes that. She also convinces herself that she and his job are balanced fairly if not equally in husband’s heart. He believes that too. They are very different creatures, and in this case, wife inherits naturally the interest and burden to close the gap.


Filed under sex differences

9 responses to “1783. Sex Difference Redux—Part 37: Her First or His Job? II

  1. Anne

    Faith that he can serve two masters… a tall order, Sir Guy! Is there a way the woman can use *indirectness* to let the man figure out that she needs/wants him around home more… or “present” to others when he is home?

    Your Highness Anne,
    You’re asking the wrong person. I have no experience as a teenage girl finding indirect ways to attract and hold the attention of boys. Perhaps if you recapture some of your youthfulness…?

    • Anne

      Or maybe not so much that SHE needs/wants him around home, but a way to create inside HIS OWN SELF the desire to be around home more (since WADWMUFGAO)?

      Your Highness Anne,
      See previous comment about restoring youthfulness….

  2. Marianne

    Sir Guy,

    This post is wonderful! Would you also do a post on hobbies and after work organizations hubby may belong to? I like the part about dealing with anxiety privately without questioning hubby. Any suggestions how would be great. I also like Anne’s question. This series has been followed with great interest.

    Thank you Sir Guy.

    Your Highness Marianne,

    I’m not in to hobbies and after work organizations. They depend too much on personalities and character to have any universal thoughts that women never hear. So, let me beg off.

    As to dealing with anxieties, may I suggest this: Start a journal and restrict yourself to only positive thoughts and expressions of gratitude. Then relieve your anxieties by converting them from negative and hurtful as you write them in positive terms. Every anxiety, within which you can find gratefulness for something, will fade into near-nothingness. For example, you get the slightest indication that husband has an interest in someone else. Post entries daily in longhand (no keyboards allowed) that cite:

    + How pretty he thinks you are. (NOT why he doesn’t or why he doesn’t show it enough.)

    + How your dress last night tickled his fancy, even tho he said little.

    + How grateful you are that the new ‘relax’ idea you had for him made him feel good.

    As an imaginative woman, you should find more than enough to keep your journal flowing and your anxieties taking a rest or perhaps evaporating.


  3. Lin

    Before marriage women want men who have good jobs or careers and are good providers/protectors.

    Once they have the husband, they compete with the very same thing they apparently wanted. Complain and nag about men’s jobs or activities outside home, the very same qualities that make them men and made them desirable in the first place.

    Nagging a man about his job is like eating your cake and wanting to have it back.

    • Anne

      I have thought about this many times. Isn’t it true but sad?! I was SO impressed by my husband when we were dating. I had never met a man with such high standards in terms of work ethic. He’d been on his own since 17 and had not just supported himself but aced his way through college and grad school! Needless to say, once he had a wife and kids depending on him, he only worked HARDER! Impressive, really. 🙂 But ya know, I still have my moments of wondering what happened to that guy who used to enjoy carving out a little time to relax (that word is not in his vocab anymore) and spend time with me. 🙂 I love all Sir Guys words about this topic + reminders to be grateful. For there is MUCH to be grateful for!!

      Your Highness Anne,
      You sound as if you’ve forgotten how to invite a man to relax in the shadow of your attention. For shame. I bet you just got discouraged and turned lazy from that. It reminds me of medical doctor friend who claims that the high cost of health care comes from the infernal desire of everyone to be comfortable. Are you too comfortable about home care? Just asking. No fault intended.

      • Anne

        I will ponder this and kick into a higher gear in terms of home care. I am interested in the connection you see between a man’s ability to “relax in the shadow of your attention” and home care. Is home care the “sign” of attentiveness? Or does it set the stage for relaxing later?

        Your Highness Anne,

        If I understand you, I see home care as impersonal and, as far as he’s concerned, just sufficient for him to enjoy comfort and not complain. See? That’s how perfectionist homemakers drive their man away with compulsiveness that costs husbandly respect. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t conclude that I’m against a well-kept house.

        Consequently, home care isn’t a sign of attentiveness to him. Your presence, support, respect, attention, contributions to his comfort, and being an enabler for him to find enjoyment in your company and recover and prepare for tomorrow. Those are signs of your attentiveness.

        He won’t feel entirely welcome in his castle if you are forever straightening, cleaning, and showing other impersonal actions to please yourself. I’ve described a very fine line, so don’t take it entirely literally. You know your man and you know yourself. Do what’s best for your relationship.


        • Femmy

          Thank you Sir Guy for explaining something that I’ve always felt to be true–all my life.
          I guess my feminine intuition was on the mark even when l was a little girl.
          I never saw that done correctly by the (East European) wives in my family. Hmmm.
          I guess the old-fashioned advice from women authors in the 50’s was right all along. (Such as Andelin, etc.)
          Now, modern women make fun of that advice.

        • Anne

          I have spend several days thinking this over, but I think I missed something somewhere in my reading on WWNH. I stepped UP care of the home *because* of my husband. He greatly prefers things neat and tidy whenever possible (and I have two very young children, so tidying up is not something that merely happens once or twice a day, but is an ongoing process.) I have tried to honor his desires by keeping the house at or above the level of his preferences. I am sad to think this may cause him to feel unable to rest in our home, as the alternative (messiness) does the same, too. I certainly don’t want to sacrifice his ability to rest, or my pleasantness in my attempts to keep a tidy home! Should one priority trump the other (in husband’s perception), ie. upholding his desires for neatness vs. offering him restful attentiveness? I wish it were always possible to do both…

          Your Highness Anne,

          You may be trying to fine tune your situation too much. You sound confused. May I suggest you take your dilemma to him?

          1. With pleasantness aglow, sit him down with a treat and the promise of semi-serious talk. Then, without complaining or explaining, say, “I need your help.” Wait for his response.

          2. Tell him you’re no longer able to keep his castle tidy enough for you and yet comfortable enough for him. The conflict overwhelms your ability. Something has to give and you’re asking him to consider your dilemma. Also, ask if he can help. Then listen!

          3. Unfortunately, a trap is likely to appear. He will take over, give instructions about homekeeping standards and expectations, and supervise you even closer than before. Of course, you want to avoid that.

          So, I suggest the following. Thoroughly think through all three steps and imagine his response. If he is highly unlikely to take the path described in step 3, actually follow with the first two steps. If he’s likely to follow step 3, keep everything to yourself. Fire up your imagination and uncover ways you can eliminate your dilemma without DIRECTLY involving him. Imagination is mighty powerful, so rely on it when simpler options aren’t available.

          Good luck and God bless you and yours,

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